Tennessee 6th District
The rolling countryside of Middle Tennessee, west of the Cumberland Plateau and the last of the Appalachian Mountain chain, has been called “the dimple of the universe.” This is hilly and fertile land, cut by deep, curvy rivers. The terrain here was never much suited for plantation crops. It has long been a land of small farmers and small county-seat towns, nestled amid what people here regard as some of the loveliest scenery on earth. Middle Tennessee has also been one of the heartlands of the Democratic Party. It was the political home base of President Andrew Jackson and supported him nearly unanimously during the Civil War, and though it had very few slaves, it resisted the invading Union armies. For 140 years after Jackson, it voted solidly Democratic and elected as its representatives in Congress some of the luminaries of the national Democratic Party: James K. Polk (1825-39), speaker of the House and later president; Cordell Hull (1907-21, 1923-31), later senator and secretary of state; Albert Gore Sr. (1939-53), later senator; and Albert Gore Jr., (1977-85), later senator and vice president.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 6th Congressional District includes 14 Middle Tennessee counties surrounding Nashville, plus the eastern half of Wilson County. The heritage here is old and rural, but economic growth has fanned out into the farmland from Nashville, evident in thousands of jobs created by Japanese companies and American startups, firms fleeing the North and entrepreneurs fleeing taxes. Nearby is Smyrna and its Nissan plant, which has the largest automobile production capacity in the nation and is the home of the Altima, the seventh best-selling car in the United States in 2008. Nissan plans to build and sell its first all-electric car there in 2010. In Rutherford County, Murfreesboro, which is the district’s largest city, has grown from a crumbling town in the 1980s to a thriving community and the home of Middle Tennessee State University, the second-largest in the state. In 2008, Business Week magazine named Murfreesboro the fifth most affordable city in the nation for families. In the 1990s, its population grew 51%, and since 2000, it has grown 26%, an average rate of 5,000 new residents a year.
This is one of two fast-growing Tennessee congressional districts; the other is the neighboring 7th District. The new voters here are Republican, but Democrats in control of redistricting in 2002 removed rapidly growing Republican suburbs in Wilson and Williamson counties from the district. They added Robertson County north of Nashville, which is significantly less Republican. But that was not enough to halt Republican advances. Without the district’s former House representative, Al Gore, on the Democratic ticket, Bush carried the 6th by 60%-40% in 2004. Republican presidential nominee John McCain won it 62%-37%, carrying every county except Jackson.